Forests in 25 Words or Less

By Alison Clausen

Today marks the U.N. International Day of Forests. I was asked recently for an “elevator pitch” in 25 words or less on why we should invest resources in saving tropical forests and, in particular, in tropical forests in Madagascar. To those of us working conservation, this question seems like a no-brainer, so at first I took the question with a grain of salt.

However, my questioner persisted and it made me realize both that it is not a no-brainer for everyone – particularly given the competing priorities for peoples’ attention – and that for the conservation community we need to be able to answer such questions if we are to engage people in our work.

Carbon emissions from land clearing outweigh those of the entire global transport sector (cars, planes, trains, etc.) . Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.

Some values of forests will be familiar – for example providing habitat, food, and shelter for diverse species; regulating water supply and quality; and maintaining soil fertility and controlling erosion. But forests also help to regulate our climate, facilitate private sector involvement in sustainable agriculture, and empower local communities.

Forests act as climate sinks. It has been estimated that an old growth forest may store up to 250 tonnes of carbon per hectare in the span of 300 years or more. Given that carbon emissions from land clearing outweigh those of the entire global transport sector (cars, planes, trains, etc.) this is a good thing that has benefits for the entire planet.

Four critically endangered lemur species are protected in teh 1,438 square mile Makira Natural Park, including this Indri lemur. Photo ©Miguel Pedrono.
Four critically endangered lemur —> Read More

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